How accurate are at-home COVID tests?


ST. LOUIS – At-home COVID tests are showing up on pharmacy shelves now. Medical experts say any infection test result can only capture a snapshot in time. 

The self-administered nasal swab tests are sold over the counter and return positive or negative results within 15 to 30 minutes.  

According to the co-director of the Division on Infectious Diseases at Washington University, the at-home antigen tests could stop a COVID outbreak before it begins. 

Dr. Bill Powderly says the tests are accurate on a person who has symptoms but is less accurate in people who have no symptoms. 

“Positive tests are definitely positive. Negative tests, don’t rule it out, and that’s why some of the manufacturers are recommending do a second one 12 to 24 hours later. It says, I’m not infectious right now but it doesn’t mean I won be infectious tomorrow that’s why we still strongly recommend people get vaccinated,” Dr. Powderly said. 

He says the at-home test is another tool to keep families safe as winter forces us inside and people travel to visit relatives. 

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